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Future forces will use technologies that have never been seen before on the battlefield, drawing on biotechnology and brain-computer interfaces, augmented reality headsets, adaptive camouflage, and more. But how will US Army leaders make informed decisions on which technologies show promise and have the greatest value for money for the warfighters?

The US Army Research Laboratory (ARL) continues to look broadly across the swath of technologies critical to supporting the Army today and in the future. To navigate the vast technology at their disposal, Troy Alexander, chief at the ARL’s Technology Forecasting Office, told defenseone.com that the laboratory established a novel approach to develop technology forecasts, to look deep into the future, about 40 years into the future, to project how technology may evolve and mature.   

For example, artificial intelligence (AI) promises to develop integrated teams between intelligence systems and the warfighter, which enables soldiers to have a much longer and deeper reach and a stronger competitive advantage over adversaries. The value here of AI and how it starts to allow soldiers to do autonomy with platforms is that it starts to reduce the cognitive load on the warfighter. And it positions warfighters to have a much farther reach than they typically would have while working alone, as reported by meritalk.com.

One of the emerging fields of innovation is robotics technology. US Army researchers developed a novel computational model that allows robots to ask clarifying questions to Soldiers, enabling them to be more effective teammates in tactical environments.

Future Army missions will have autonomous agents, such as robots, embedded in human teams making decisions in the physical world.

One major challenge toward this goal is maintaining performance when a robot encounters something it has not previously seen – for example, a new object or location.

Robots will need to be able to learn these novel concepts on the fly in order to support the team and the mission. Researchers integrated the model into a cognitive robotic architecture and demonstrated that this approach to learning through dialogue is promising for Army applications, as reported by army.mil.